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Asian-Canadian boy attacked, blamed for ‘spreading’ coronavirus, says Saskatoon father

Global News logo Global News 2020-05-24 Mickey Djuric
a sign on the side of a dirt road: Saskatoon police say they are investigating an alleged attack that occurred at the Bishop James P. Mahoney Park on Friday, May 22. © Screengrab / Google Maps Saskatoon police say they are investigating an alleged attack that occurred at the Bishop James P. Mahoney Park on Friday, May 22.

Saskatoon police have opened up an investigation following an alleged unprovoked attack on an Asian-Canadian boy in the city on Friday.

The 15-year-old boy was biking through a field at Bishop James P. Mahoney Park when a man “started to curse and yell racial slurs” at him, said the boy's father, Nelson Chen, on Facebook.

“He blamed my son for ‘spreading the virus.’”

According to Chen, his son took a picture of the suspect, who then “chased him, pushing him off his bike, punched him in his helmet and tackled him.”

“My son was shaken but got away without apparent injuries.”

READ MORE: These Asian Canadians are concerned as hate crimes spike in the coronavirus pandemic

Part of the altercation was caught on video by the 15-year-old and uploaded to Facebook, where it’s been shared nearly 3,000 times and viewed 118,000 times.

In the video, it appears the boy is pushed to ground as he’s screaming “no".

The family also shared the video with police after filing a formal complaint.

“We can confirm we have received a police report and are investigating,” said the Saskatoon Police Service in a statement to Facebook. “Both of the involved parties have been identified and spoke with. At this preliminary stage, no charges have been laid.”

The family says they are working with police as they continue to investigate.

Chen says he immigrated to Saskatoon nearly 30 years ago and never left because of the kindness of the people.

“We have always known that our choice to come here was a good one,” Chen said. “This is our home. Nothing and nobody can change that.”

The Chen family have received an outpouring of support since the video was posted online.

“I would like to thank each and every person who has liked, shared and commented your support for myself, my family and the entire Asian community during these difficult times,” said the 15-year-old in a public statement on Facebook.

“I am doing well, and am forever grateful for the kindness and support of the countless people who have stepped up to combat such racism and hate. Your kind words and actions mean the world to me during this stressful and confusing time.

“You all have helped myself, and my family cope with this frightening experience.”

Global News has reached out to the Chen family for comment.

READ MORE: ‘A lot of fear’: Asian community a target of racism amid coronavirus threat

Over the last few weeks, news of violent attacks towards East Asian Canadians has made headlines.

This month, Vancouver police announced they were investigating an attack as a hate crime against a 92-year old Asian man with dementia. A suspect yelled racist remarks against the man inside a convenience store and then allegedly pushed him out of the store, causing him to fall and hit his head.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has fuelled racism, including violent attacks against East Asians in Canada, said Amy Go, the president of the Chinese National Council for Social Justice (CNCSJ), an organization that advocates for Chinese Canadians.

With files from Olivia Bowden

 
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